The main raw materials for fertilizers and formulated products rose more than 100% in 2021. Products like Super Simples (phosphorus), for example, registered an average increase of 115% in the interior of Brazil. The KCL (potassium) is the leader of highs, until a few weeks ago, rose more than 178% in the national average.
According to agronomist and market analyst Cristiano Palavro, the highest rise in the year was nitrogen. “Urea accumulates, in 2021, an average high of 234%, with a more aggressive movement observed from the end of August until now”, he points out. According to him, several factors impacted the rise of fertilizers, such as fuel prices and energy in general, added to systemic and specific logistical problems.
“Today the main concerns revolve around the restriction of exports from China, which should affect mainly the phosphate and nitrogen markets,” he warns. The specialist explains that this is due to the difficulty of supply in the country and the prioritization of internal supply to the detriment of exports.
There are also geopolitical problems affecting other countries and the market, such as trade restrictions in Belarus that directly affect the supply of potash.
crisis in the field
President Jair Bolsonaro mentioned, last week, that Brazil could suffer a food shortage in 2022 due to the lack of fertilizers caused by the decrease in Chinese manufacturing. The statement took place during the ceremony to modernize occupational health and safety standards, at Palácio do Planalto.
“I’ll let you know a year before: fertilizers. Due to the energy crisis, China is starting to produce less fertilizer. It’s already increased in price, it’s going to increase more and it’s going to be lacking. Every five dishes of food in the world, one leaves Brazil. Let’s go. have supply problems next year,” he says.
On October 12th, Bolsonaro was in Guarujá to rest with his family. During a tour of the city, he was greeted by supporters and again mentioned the fertilizer crisis. “We have problems ahead. I’m getting you ahead of the fertilizer crisis,” he declared.
According to the president’s speech, during a meeting with the parliamentary front of agriculture, the crisis was discussed and the Special Secretary for Strategic Affairs presented the National Fertilizer Plan, which has been discussed since the month of April.
As an option for the rural producer, Bolsonaro mentioned stone powder or rock powder, which is a national product and is among the main options to replace potassium. The Plan seeks to strengthen policies to increase the competitiveness of production and the distribution of inputs and technologies for fertilizers in the country in a sustainable manner.
In practice, with the elaboration of the National Fertilizer Plan, the Federal Government wants to reduce external dependence and increase the competitiveness of Brazilian agribusiness in the international market.
National data, released by the Federal Government’s Foreign Trade Secretariat, indicate that, considering all types of fertilizers, 24 million tonnes arrived in the country from January to August, 17% more than in the same period in 2020.
Difference between chemical fertilizers and rock powders
According to the master in agronomy and specialist in soil fertility, Saulo Brockes, the main difference between chemical fertilizers for rock powders is their solubility. Chemical fertilizers are soluble salts and fertilize the plant for a limited time, only while available in the soil. These products are limited as they are lost through evaporation and leaching, where the roots no longer have access.
When leached, these salts cause effluent contamination and water intoxication, which generates an environmental impact. “The consequence of the irrational use of chemical and soluble fertilizers is soil salinization and loss, which can also be due to volatilization in addition to leaching”, explains Saulo, who is also technical coordinator at Tratto FMX.
Rock powders, on the other hand, are the opposite of chemical fertilizers, as they are insoluble, that is, they are not lost through leaching or volatilization, they do not salinize or degrade the soil and the environment. Rock powders are insoluble, but bio-available, they nourish and provide nutrition for the plants according to the bio-demand of the crop being planted.
In Brazil there are several rocks used for agriculture, such as Fine Micaschist (FMX), phosphate rock and limestone, which is used for correction, but is also a source of calcium and magnesium. FMX, for example, can provide nutrition to plants for up to a year, in addition to regenerating the soil, bringing balance back to the environment and conditioning the soil to improve nutritional efficiency.
These rock powders are sold on the Brazilian market for between R$100.00 and R$500.00 per ton. If compared with the same amount of potassium chloride, the value does not reach 5% of the imported fertilizer. “The rural producer is free to do the math and see what the economy is at the end of production”, points out the master in agronomy.